Climb Through the Fear

Six weeks ago I found myself sobbing, tied to and clinging to the top of a forty-foot rock at Windy Point. I had followed my partner, Ray, up this rockface quite willingly, though with incredible terror. (I begin to feel my fear of heights when I'm three or four feet off the ground -- about the height of a crib. I've concluded that being dropped as a six-week-old baby left me with a ton of fear.)

At the three foot mark on the rock my teeth started chattering, I became drenched with sweat, I shook uncontrollably, and my greatest wish was to give in to the rising hysteria in me. I kept my feelings in check, though, knowing it was important to be in a safe place before I let myself really discharge. I'll tell you, no climber has had a case of "Elvis leg" (climbing slang for a shaky leg) like I did!

I got stuck in a couple of places en route and had to really fight to keep from launching into the serious discharge. And -- I made it to the top! Once there, Ray tied me in and simply lay on top of me while I cried and cried and shook and chattered and cried for thirty-five minutes. I continued to chatter and shake until I decided to stop -- once both feet were firmly connected to the level ground.

A week later I went to the climbing gym with Ray and a couple of friends. The gym is about thirty feet high and is set up to be very safe. All of the elements of climbing are completely under control. There are no surprises. (The first time I walked into that gym six months ago, I burst into tears just walking through the door.) This time with Ray and friends, it was not quite as threatening. I was able to do several climbs with a small amount of discharge. I went back the following week and actually experienced FUN! I am now a member there and go two or three times a week! I still have lots of pockets of fear, but I just let myself feel them and climb on through the fear.

Wendy Youmans
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Reprinted from "Tucson News and Goods" RC newsletter

Last modified: 2015-07-21 09:51:15-07